Poetry Evening

Who’s in the Next Room?


Poems by Thomas Hardy with new writing from Paul Hyland, Kate Scott, Catherine Simmonds & Pam Zinnemann-Hope

Four contemporary Dorset poets take Thomas Hardy’s electrifying verse as their starting point and juxtapose it with their own responses to his life, landscapes, fiction and poetry. The outcome of a National Trust residency as part of the Poetry Society’s centenary celebrations, the reading has been performed at venues ranging from Thomas Hardy’s house, Max Gate, the Bridport Literary Festival to Kings Place, London.


  • Standard Tickets | £10
  • DNHAS Members or The Thomas Hardy Society | £8
  • Opening hours:

    Daily: 9.00am - 4.30pm
    Sunday: 10.00am - 4.00pm
    Bank Holidays: 10.00am - 4.00pm

  • Dorset Museum

    High West Street
    Dorchester DT1 1XA

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Paul Hyland


Paul is a poet, travel writer and biographer, author of six travel books, the biography Ralegh’s Last Journey (HarperCollins), the guide Getting Into Poetry and seven poetry titles including Art of the Impossible, New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2004). Paul is an experienced reader of his work on BBC Radio 2, 3 and 4 and as writer-in-residence/and performer at literary events.


Kate Scott


Kate’s collection, Stitches, was published by Peterloo and her chapbook, Escaping the Cage, by HappenStance. Her poems and short fiction have been broadcast on Radio 4 and in the US. She is an award-winning author of 35 children’s books, and a children’s TV head writer, scriptwriter and story editor. Her plays have been performed at fringe venues in Salisbury and London.


Catherine Simmonds


Catherine’s poetry has appeared in journals in the UK and USA. We Have Heard Ravens – her collection of prose poems drawn from the diaries of Dorothy Wordsworth (Flagon Press) became a performance with music composed by Virginia Astley. She collaborates with artist Rachel Sargent on exhibitions of poems and paintings, including Far West (Artmill Gallery, Plymouth, 2021) and Sanctuary, written during 2020 about a much loved local common.


Pam Zinnemann-Hope


Pam is a children’s author, librettist, playwright, and poet. On Cigarette Papers, her first collection, was short-listed for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize and adapted by her for The Afternoon Play on Radio 4, in which she also acted. Foothold travels through the seasons and ecology in Thomas Hardy Territory. She is an experienced tutor and reader.



‘One of the best poetry readings I have attended’

Daisy Goodwin,
Sunday Times

‘What a pleasure it was to hold the event with you…and to hear the wonderful poems which you have produced…the Who’s in the Next Room? show works brilliantly’

Graham Henderson,
Poet in the City,
King’s Place, London

‘It was an exceptional experience to sit in Thomas Hardy’s house and enjoy the skill of modern poets reading their work as it should be heard, sharing their talent and reaffirming the long literary tradition’

Peter Davies,
after a performance
at Max Gate

‘An evening of creative genius’

View from Dorchester,
Thomas Hardy Society Conference

‘Thank you all for producing such a perfect evening of poetry. You had the audience enthralled…It is a tribute to all your talents that the evening was sold out so rapidly’

Tanya Bruce-Lockhart, Director,
Bridport Literary Festival

Who’s in the Next Room?
by Thomas Hardy


“Who’s in the next room?–who?
I seemed to see
Somebody in the dawning passing through,
Unknown to me.”
“Nay: you saw nought. He passed invisibly.”

“Who’s in the next room?–who?
I seem to hear
Somebody muttering firm in a language new
That chills the ear.”
“No: you catch not his tongue who has entered there.”

“Who’s in the next room?–who?
I seem to feel
His breath like a clammy draught, as if it drew
From the Polar Wheel.”
“No: none who breathes at all does the door conceal.”

“Who’s in the next room?–who?
A figure wan
With a message to one in there of something due?
Shall I know him anon?”
“Yea he; and he brought such; and you’ll know him anon.”


Special Exhibition

28 May – 30 October 2022

Take a fresh look at the Victorian novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy, in the stunning Wessex landscapes that shaped his view of the world. His story will be retold in exciting new ways by our museum collections, from period costumes to personal letters, art to archaeology.

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9 September 2022 - 14 October 2022

Drawing Into Life – 6 Week Creative Course

Six week art course designed for adults interested in art and archaeology. This new course is an exciting opportunity to get up close with some extraordinary artefacts in the collection at Dorset Museum. You will be drawing inspiration from prehistoric art including Neolithic flint tools, Anglo Saxon gold, precious burial goods, Roman mosaics, decorative textiles and archaeological maps amongst others, and have the chance to work directly from the Elisabeth Frink collection.

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Community Exhibition

3 October 2022 - 8 February 2023


Unmasked is a local, voluntary project that began in the dark days of March 2020, when a new disease called COVID-19 literally stopped the world as we knew it.

Find out more

Poetry Evening


Who’s in the Next Room?

Poems by Thomas Hardy with new writing from Paul Hyland, Kate Scott, Catherine Simmonds & Pam Zinnemann-Hope

Find out more

Big Draw 2022

9 October 2022, 10:30am - 12noon

The Big Draw at Dorset Museum

Come and take part in our Big Draw event at Dorset Museum. Inspired by the natural world around us, colour and natural forms, help us create a giant collage in the style of Henri Rousseau to display in one of our galleries.

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11 October 2022, 11:00am - 12:00pm

Archaeology Highlights Tour

Explore archaeological treasures held by Dorset Museum – from Bronze Age gold to medieval silver -  in this volunteer-led tour.

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13 October 2022, 5:00pm - 7:00pm

Museum after hours

Join us for an opportunity to explore the Museum at this free late opening

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13 October 2022, 7:00pm - 8:00pm

A persistent place: a new chronology for Neolithic Dorchester

The area underneath and around the town of Dorchester was an important place for Neolithic people, who built a variety of monuments here over a period of 2000 years. In this talk, Dr Susan Greaney discusses the research project that has obtained radiocarbon dates from samples of antler picks, charcoal and human remains held in the Dorset Museum collection and has been able to build a brand new chronology for the monuments.

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21 October 2022, 7:00pm - 9:30pm

Strings Forever!

Join baroque violinist Emma-Marie Kabanova on a musical journey back in time exploring the dance tunes and folk music beloved by Thomas Hardy and his family.  Tim Laycock and Colin Thompson contribute the traditional dance tunes and folksongs of Dorset on violin, concertina and melodeon.

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